Would you like to know the five key areas you need to grow in order to maintain your influence?
1. Learnt intelligence – innate intelligence, decision making, critical thinking.
To summarise this, if you are not intelligent you will not be able to gain sustainable influence. To be totally blunt here, when was the last time you ever saw someone who was thick, have sustainable influence in anything?
Now you can be innately intelligent, some of the lucky ones are born with a high level of intelligence but for those of you like me, you have to earn it the hard way through learned intelligence. This comes from studying your craft, reading broadly and practicing what you do.
Decision making and critical thinking is critical to success
Alongside the intelligence factor, you need to work on your decision making and critical thinking skills. Decision making people are often substantially more influential than anyone who won’t make decisions, provided they use critical thinking to make intelligent decisions. If you are just winging your decisions the results of them will soon find you out.
Ask powerful questions, they generate anxiety or doubt. This puts you up the credibility curve.
Most people will not have a credible answer to a powerful question you ask. This is because they generally don’t spend time asking themselves the same question.
Some people might have the answer, some might try to wing their way through it but most won’t have an answer to your question and that is how you know your question is powerful.
An example of this is I was at a conference one year and the keynote speaker was talking about how he was called over to Australia to help evaluate why a rugby league team over there was in such dire straits.
They were facing major corruption allegations for paying players well above what the code allowed and were in disarray. After he told us about this he then asked this powerful question: “What do you think was missing from this team?”
Some people said leadership, some said it was greed but no-one really had a firm answer.
After about 30 seconds he said “What was missing from this team is Integrity”
Now in hindsight, that answer might seem obvious because you have had time to analyze it but you could see in the crowd his credibility went up at the asking and answering of this powerful question.
A simple, powerful question that 500 attendees could not answer. Imagine the credibility you could build by asking powerful questions like these.
2. Emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships.
Emotional intelligence is a buzzword we often hear today but it has its place in our ability to influence people. You see everything we do in our day to day activities, our interactions with people, how we answer someone’s questions, how we speak in front of people effects how they perceive us.
Be Concious of the Effect of Your Words and Actions on Others.
As a result of this, it is our responsibility as professional business people to be conscious of just how these interactions with people impact them and their opinion of us.
It’s a whole topic in of itself but to start you off on the journey of becoming emotionally intelligent take time after each meeting, each interaction to think about how you acted, what you said, how you said it and the effect that had on the people you were with.
Then if the result was not what you were after, critically evaluate your own actions, words, behavior and look to how you could improve the situation. Take radical personal responsibility for the reactions you get from people and see how much your ability to influence people improves as you fine tune this very important part of influence.
In EQ there are two core principles:
The question you need to ask yourself is:
Can I make my audience (the people I work with) feel safe by being consistent with them and predictable in behavior?
No-one likes dealing with people who are inconsistent and unpredictable. We soon learn in life that these kinds of people are dangerous for our health and wealth!
3. Narrative intelligence – Street smart, quick on your feet, tell a good story.
People are always going to ask you curly questions, put you in situations where you are not comfortable, create circumstances where your failure could well be imminent.
You need to be able to think quick and know a thing or two about dealing with these situations.
Unfortunately for most of us, most of the time this only comes with practice but something that will help you boost your credibility in these situations is to prepare yourself in advance for these situations.
One way you can do this is to learn as many stories about what you do as possible. Stories about success, stories about failure, learning stories. Then when you are placed in a situation that you don’t have a specific answer for, you can pull one of these stories out and build a case for your credibility.
4. Ethical intelligence – Integrity, professionalism, trust.
This is far more than just thinking you are an honest person.
Ethical Intelligence is about being able to recognize situations where you could be compromising your integrity and you may not even be aware of it at the time.
It’s about being situationally aware when people may be attempting to get you to do something that could be construed down the line as unethical.
Take for example, I was reading a book a long time ago and it talked about one time the CEO of a company was taking a look through his factory with the foreman at the time.
The foreman received a phone call asking if the CEO was with him and could he pass the phone on.
On overhearing the call the CEO told his foreman, “Tell him I’m not here”.
The foreman looked the CEO in the eye, handed him the phone and said “You tell him. If I can lie for you, I can lie to you”.
Integrity can be powerful in its simplicity
With that simple but powerful example of unshakeable integrity that CEO knew he could trust his foreman and soon had him running major parts of his business because he knew he could trust in the foreman’s professionalism and integrity.
Culture influences individuals in a variety of ways including what you value and what you fear.
When you use culture to create sustainable influence you are identifying what the people you are influencing value, what they fear, what their desires are, their views and their worries.
Then you are taking that information and using it to focus on the things that are going to get you results.
For example, if you were trying to influence someone into purchasing a new Ute who valued material items but feared debt you would need to focus them on the large amounts of value they would get from the Ute because if you pour on the value of the item it diminishes the fear of debt.